Do you have a vision? If you have no picture in your mind of the ideal state, either for yourself or your organization, you will stagnate.
An envisioned ideal helps you to constantly progress in the direction of a desired outcome – even if it is, for all intents and purposes, and unattainable ideal. The Lean community refers to this as finding “True North.” Even if you are unfamiliar with Lean’s philosophy, or think it’s a load of hooey – it’s hard to deny that imagining what the future ought to look like helps to orient everything else towards that perfect vision.
If, as you encounter problems, you are simply responding to each one in turn without much sense of how to learn and grow from it, you will only find yourself meandering from problem to problem forever. In fact, you will likely find the same problems keep popping up – to be countered with the same solutions. Consequently, a boring, mindless do-loop results. In the end, this dynamic leads only to activity for the sake of activity – and not for purposes of driving towards some goal.
In many cases, there’s not even a problem to tackle with an old, tired solution. Often times, people will get busy just doing anything – since the demonstration of activity it what’s prized the most, far above actual accomplishment. This is short-term thinking at its finest – a mindset that worries only about whether or not work of any sort is being done and not about what that work is bringing to bear for the future.
Activity for its own sake will, inevitably, be revealed as a waste. People who seem to master the corporate game with connections and politics but produce nothing are, eventually, sniffed out. Organizations that churn out products – even expensive, shiny ones but bring nothing of value to the market will, similarly, die out. These entities do things for the sake of doing them, but have no understanding of why.
Developing that ideal vision for the future is fundamental to finding purpose. Once you have that purpose – that guiding, inviolable sense of why you’re doing what you’re doing – you will begin to orient all your activities towards reaching that ideal. You can only hide activities that go nowhere for so long. To achieve any goal, personal or professional, you must first create your vision, define your purpose, and align every activity towards making that purpose a reality.